Encounters Short Film and Animation Festival
05 November 2012
Lighthouse's Emily Kyriakides, Sian Habell-Aili and Roberta Mataityte recently attended Encounters Short Film and Animation Festival in Bristol. One of UK's longest running short film festivals, the visit was timed to coincide with our announcement of the projects selected for the BFI Shorts 2012 scheme.
On the day the slate was revealed, Emily took part in a discussion panel entitled Funding and Opportunities, looking at the current state of film funding in the UK, and other forms of support for filmmakers. Chaired by Chris Moll of Creative England, the other panelists were Chris Collins (BFI Film Fund), Will Massa (British Council/Collabor8te), Wendy Bevan-Mogg (Creative England) and Susie Wright (Channel 4). The message that emerged during the discussion was that things are brightening up, with a growing number of opportunities available for filmmakers.
The festival was also a chance to watch some great shorts by filmmakers from across the UK and abroad. Included in the programme was Shirin, a powerful drama directed by Stephen Fingleton, one of the filmmakers awarded BFI Shorts 2012 funding. Also screening was Semiconductor’s 20Hz shown as part ‘Brit 4: Off the Radar’. Co-commissioned by Lighthouse and Arts Santa Monica, the film is an interpretation of a magnetic storm occurring in the Earth’s upper atmosphere, a visceral exploration of the relationship between radio waves and sound.
Other gems to be found within the programme was a showcase of 3D and 3 Colour Animation from Soviet Russia. It was an incredible privilege to watch these stunning films – the films are more than 70 years old and had never been seen outside of Russia before!
Another highlight was hearing the Aardman team in conversation at the Arnolfini, and it was hard to believe these were the three company directors of one of the most successful animation studios in the world. It was certainly more Creature Comforts that Disney sheen and sparkle. Peter Lord, David Sproxton and Nick Park have been producing animated content for over four decades and are so at ease with each other that being in the audience felt more like eavesdropping on a conversation in a country pub. The makers of national treasures such as Wallace & Gromit, Chicken Run and Pirates discussed their beginnings, through to national success and Academy Award wins.
But the biggest treat came in the form of a screening of short films created by the studios throughout the years, which displayed some spectacular feats of imagination and ingenuity. The Pearce Sisters is a bleak comedy about two spinsters living by the sea with added guts and gore! Dot, the world’s tiniest heroin, is a short film shot entirely on the Nokia N8 about a 9mm girl who wakes up to find her world caving in around her and makes a swift escape across coins, buttons and on the back of a bumble bee.
Aardman are well known for their signature claymation classics, but seeing what they produce when given free reign is a reminder of the studio’s versatility and continued relevance. It is especially heartening to learn that the BFI are teaming up with Aardman to deliver an animation lab for up-and-coming animation talent in the UK.
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